tv After Words CSPAN March 22, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
they fall in line with that practice. and then secondarily how did they make a living? how do they support themselves before they got arrested and now but how do they do that? >> i don't actually know but i asem they have heard riot girl groups because it's obviously referenced by girls in the movement in a way that they named themselves. they certainly listen to a fair amount of various kinds of punk music and lifted some of it.
now, as far as the whole thing there are all different people. some of them were college students who were also working. some of them were living at home like maria was living at home and going to college. some of them had jobs. there was a musician who was very much involved who made a good living as a computer programmer and some of them mostly shoplifted and lived in squat so there were all sorts of different people. >> unfortunately we have run out of time but i want to thank you for your questions. you manage to touch on many of the areas. i hope to would have more time to explore and they're so much more in the book. mosh a guess and will be sunning outside and i would like to ask all of you to think about supporting this program but rings these kinds of writers to los angeles, and donations of
course i am sure if you talk to louise steinman outside you can figure out a way to handle that. look forward to her new work. she is riding she is writing on the tsarnaev brothers and the boston massacre. when do you expect that? >> i don't know. >> we can look forward to that and i want to thank you so much for coming to los angeles. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
up next on book tv "after words" with guest host jonathan last a senior writer at "the weekly standard" and author of what to expect when no one is expecting. this week paul taylor and his latest book "the next america" boomers, millenials and the looming generational showdown. in it the pew research director examines how the demographic changes in america are likely to shape u.s. culture in the coming decades. particularly as the population at large gets older. this program is about an hour. >> host: paul taylor welcome. tell me about ida may fuller. >> guest: ida may fuller was a never married legal secretary from brattleboro vermont.
she was the first person ever to receive a social security check in her retirement in 1940 just after her 65th birthday. it bore the number 00001 and it was a monthly check for a little over $22. ida was clever enough to live for another 35 years. she died at age 100. in the course of those 35 years the czechs kept coming and at the end she had received about $23,000 over the course of her retirement. it doesn't sound like much in today's dollars but if you then look at what i do put into the system when she raced tired the system was only three years old and she had only contributed for three years. with what she put an end her employer put in what ida got back on those return 500 fold. she is the poster girl for a demographic reality about social security that is very current
today which is that the system was absolutely at its best in the first generation. it was very good for the next generation and honored those but by the time we fast-forward to 2014 it is an big demographic trouble because way back then we had 30, 40, 50, even 150 people retiring lee. it goes down precipitously in the gets to 10 to one and then down to five to one and by the time all today's 65-year-olds the famous baby boom generation who are crossing the threshold at age 65 that the rate of 10,000 a day and will do so every day between now and 2030 when they get to the end of that we have just two workers for every retiree. the math that franklin delano roosevelt put in place 75 years ago doesn't work anymore and unfortunately we have today's young adults the so-called
millennial generation who are having a lot of trouble getting started in life because they have, of age in a hostile economy. they are paying money into a system to support a level of benefits for today's retirees that they have no realistic chance of getting when they themselves retire. so there needs to be a rebalancing of the social compact. it's a very important challenge and it's a very difficult challenge for this country politically. not only is social security and medicare half of our budget it's by far the biggest thing we do, but it's symbolically the purest statement in public policy that is the country we are community all in this together. these are programs that affect everybody and the old math of these programs doesn't work. if you start from ida and you come to today it's -- host go ida got a mop up our money adventure but in the system.
today's baby boomers, what's it like for them? >> guest: if you look at social security alone or her social security and medicare. and medicare was added in 1965 by lbj. if you have those two together for most of today's baby boomers they still come out ahead and they won't get nearly the windfall returns at this first generation got that they will still come out ahead. a photo typical baby boomer who retires in 2014. i say look if she lives her actuarially allotted 20 additional years in good health she'll get roughly a half a million dollars in benefits for social security and medicare. of that she and her employers over her working life and begin she's the media and, she's the typical, will have paid maybe 380,000 and the remainder of that is going to be picked up by today's and tomorrow's taxpayers. the trouble is that the fast-forward not too today 65 euros but 45-year-olds or
today's 25-year-olds they are almost all of them in negative territory. they will pay more in over the course of their lifetime than they will get back. host go at its heart your book is about this generational tension caused by specifically this question on entitlements. tell us about the four american generations currently bouncing around our country. >> guest: what i would say about what the book is about, didn't start out to write a book about generational equity. i started out to write a book about demographic social and political change. i work at the pew research center. we do a lot of public opinion survey and they have a lot of demographers and political scientists and other social scientists and economists and we sort of look at trends again political social economic and we look at them through lots of lenses but over the decade that i've been working there looking at them through the generational lens is quite fascinating because we are in an era where the generation gaps seem
unusually large. america has always had this generational gaps because america is a dynamic society and we always have younger adults doing differently than their parents or grandparents did in this particular moment these gaps across all dimensions that we are ingested in have gotten very wide. the largest of those gaps is racial and ethnic. we are now 40 or 50 years into the third immigration wave in our countries history. it began in the mid-60's from a pass legislation to open the borders having closed their borders back in the 1920s in reaction to the previous immigration wave and the board has stayed close through world wars and we are ready to open them up again. what is distinctive about the modern immigration wave first of all an absolute numbers more immigrants than the two previous ways put together although as a share of the population is still
not as big but is really distinctive art to first waves going back to the early 19th and 20 sentry nine of 10 were from europe. in this wave half of our from latin america and nearly 30% arcent from asia and only 10% are from europe. this wave is changing our racial complexion and make up and we are now a country that is on the path to become majority nonwhite before the middle of this century sometime in early 2040s according to the census bureau. he -- a pretty dramatic change so someone my age and i'm actually one of those boomers that is about to turn 65 this year so i'm born into a country that is 85% white and i will be living in the country seemed that is 43% white. for people my age it is disorienting. for people my children's and grandchildren's age it's the only america they have known and some most natural thing in the world. this plays out in a lot of ways.
i start the book with an odd how moment on the night of president obama's re-election victory in 2012. i am an old political reporter and interested in what's going to happen with the election outcome. i used to have a bad habit of trying to forecast things and i'm about as reliable as a coin flip. i was struck on election night by the number of really smart conservative and republican political analysts, pollsters, commentators who were flummoxed by the outcome who really expected that romney to win that election and they had a loss of reason to expect that. we had four years of the terrible economy and unemployment rate at eight, nine, 10%. obama not only one but one easily. he won by 5 million -- 500 million votes in the opening pages catches the commentary of the rush limbaugh's who says the
white establishment is no longer a majority and bill o'rielly we are outnumbered. this where -- was a moment where one of our political parties realize the country we thought we were going to win and is in the country they came out and voted that day. mitt romney wound up with just 17% of the nonwhite vote. that doesn't argue well for a major political party looking at the future change of the country. now you asked about the generations have you play this out generationally if you start from the oldest generation, there are the whitest generation and the most conservative generation politically. they are the so-called silent generation that came of age in the 40s and 50s. they have been conservative much of their lives. financially they are our most secure generation and a lot of the upheavals of the great recession and a five to eight
years ago they were mostly able to escape. most of them had have paid off their mortgages on their homes so all that foreclosure going on did not affect them that much. many if not most of them were already retired and didn't have jobs to lose but nonetheless they are very anxious frankly about the changing complexion of the country. they are somewhat disoriented i think of the digital revolution and the new ways that people communicate. the next oldest generation are the boomers. they are in their 50s and 60's and the oldest are probably not 67 so they are on the cusp of retirement. they were famous generation. the famous generation back in the 60s when they were the leaders of the counterculture. the women's rights, civil rights and antiwar. they were a generation, known as a generation of protesters however that label never capture the full political breadth of the generation. as a point on the in the book
the first election boomers were able to vote old enough to vote was in 1972 in that happened to be the first election where we voted at 18. a majority of baby boomers in the election voted for richard nixon and not the antiwar challenger. nonetheless they have become more conservative as they have gotten older. they are worried about their own finances and as they head into retirement and if you look at all the ways we assess whether they are ready for retirement or not it turns out 40% or roughly half aren't. most people say if you want to have the same lifestyle in retirement you had one in your working years you need to replace 70 or 80% of your income the median boomers will replace 65%. it's not a calamity but there's a lot of nervousness. the next generation is the gen
x'ers in their late 30s and 40s. they too are worried about their retirement. they are sometimes said to be kind of the savvy entrepreneurial loners. they are somewhat distrustful of the institutions and distrustful of government. the reagan revolution in the divorce revolution and the cultural messages they got as they grew up which is it's a tough road out there. figure out your place in it your place in it and do what you can to make it the best and finally the millennials who are now in their mid-teens to early 30s. they are our largest generation numerically since the boomer generation. they have come into the work wars and the electorate with a loud noise. not quite the social protest that we recall from the boomers but in their voting habits they are our most liberal generation in modern history. three or four national elections in a row where they have voted much more democratic and there
is a old boating grab -- gap that is the largest it's ever been. the racial and ethnic profile for antennas nonwhites and nonwhites tend to be liberal. they tend to be believers in big government and that plays out here. they are also having a terrible time getting started in life. a lot of them are ready to go into the workforce. the economy went into a tailspin and hasn't fully recovered from that so they have some of the largest unemployment rates of any young generation starting out. we just put out a report earlier this month. they are so far we took a look at the oldest of the millennials in their mid-20s to early 30s so presumably by then they are through their formal education and they want to be in the workforce and starting out their lives. but if you look at all the indicators in the economic well-being of today's
millennials and you compare them with x'ers or boomers in the age where millennials are doing worse. they have higher rates of unemployment and higher rates of party. they have lower personal incomes they have lower wealth so they are in danger of becoming the first generation in modern history perhaps in our history of doing less well in life than their parents generation. we know -- don't know how the story ends but at least we know how the story is starting that starts to chip away at the american dream touches the notion of ever upwards generational mobility. >> host: you talk a lot about the wealth gap. it manifests itself from the housing bubble. you talk about the effects of the housing bustle in the two groups. >> guest: the story of the housing bubble is well-known and the great crisis in the late 90s and americans looked around and for the typical american household the value of
your house is something like 75% of your total aggregate wealth. people look around and say my goodness i have gotten rich and behaviors changed and people ran up a lot of debt. they use the value the house on consumption and it seemed like a great idea. housing prices would go up and it was wonderful but we know what happens with bubbles. they eventually burst and the sun burst in 2006. it had a terrible effect on the rest of the economy or the financial markets seized up and everything goes in to collapse and we know the aspect of that story. what is less well-known is how strong an age via there was to that story. if you think about older adults most of them by the time this double burst most of them had purchased their homes at pre-bubble prices. they enjoyed the run-up but even when everything came down they were still ahead of the game and import and most of them if you talk about 60, 70 or
80-year-olds paid off their mortgage so they were not in danger of going under water and facing foreclosure and all the rest. if you think about today's 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds those who had purchased a home and many hadn't but those who had almost all of them purchased a home at double inflated prices and when the bubble burst they are the ones who went underwater. they are the ones disproportionally effaced foreclosure and have seen their wealth which wasn't all that high to begin with if that rate. one statistic from the book if you go back to 1984 and you compare the wealth of all households headed by someone under the age of 35 versus all households headed by someone over the age of 65 the gap is 10 times the one in favor of folks at the upper end. that makes sense, people accumulate wailed as they grow older. by 2011 the gap had grown from 10:1 to 26:1. my guess is it has grown.
it's almost certainly that it has grown. this is one of many indicators that suggest over the course of many decades now some of this is driven by the housing bubble and the great recession over the last five or six years but many of these patterns are decades old and relatively speaking the old have prospered relative to the young. that's not to say that the older in great financial shape. there's a mix of people people are doing well and not general but today's older doing better than yesterday's old. >> host: your book "the next america" has many numbers which we are grateful for. every two or three pages there's a number the snaps her head back and one of them seems a little frivolous but this snapped my head back. the numbers of tattoos and the numbers of tattoos have crept up. can you talk about the growth of tattoos?
>> guest: we did a survey on millennials in this goes back for five years now. it's hard not to notice that tattoos are more prevalent in the culture than they used to be as i wrote in the book back in the day the tattoos were the body where sailors, hookers and strippers. they were faintly distributable. today they are totally mainstream especially among the young so we found 37% of all millennials have a tattoo as compared to five or 6% of people in the oldest generation. the oldest manoa niels that have a tattoo one is not enough. most have two or more and one in six have more. one of the points i make and maybe it's a stretch but it seems reasonable to me by the pew research center drawing inferences from the numbers and let others speculate as to what
may be going on. one of the things that has been said of the millennial generation is that they are the be me generation and tattoos are real manifestation of that. what was seemed to be driving that is they are the first generation of digital natives. they have grown up in a world where it's the most natural thing. this is the way you live. you have this thing in your hand and you on it and it exposes you to a world of information. exposes you to a network of friends. you can take a picture of yourself and share with your friends. all of these things are million to someone who is my age but many people my age have adapted to this and they get how empowering it is. what makes the millennials different as this is not something that had to adapt to. this is all they have ever known someone described them as a pre- per cranium -- per cranium generation. the message that this sends is
the world can revolve around you. if you put up a picture of yourself and it's kind of cool are kind of funny may be more than 10 of your best friends look at it and maybe it goes viral. i think of the story i saw in a british newspaper. for three or four years until two years ago the most successful youtube video which had gotten as the end of last year something like 500 million hits with a video called mikey bit my finger. it was a video of 1-year-old mikey sitting in a high chair and being fed by his 3-year-old brother harry. it's a very attractive family scene and until mikey bites harry's finger. then we watched harry dissolved into tears. he looks betrayed and he goes off into tears. that's pretty much it. the one piece of dialogue is ouch. that goes for 57 seconds but
it's heart-rending and 500 million people watched it. these young british lads now have their own fan clubs in followers and all the rest and have become celebrities. there was a sense in which to every young adult today i can become a celebrity. people want to see funny cat videos or when i jumped on my backyard trampoline and took a nasty spill or of million iterations of that. he gives today's young adults who i think have been dealt a worst hand economically than they know this again is the only hand they have ever had so when people my age say you know you have got a pretty tough it doesn't make that much sense to them. when we asked them about their economic confidence, the they are the most confident of any generation and maybe this is lifecycle. young adults tend to be invincible and say it will all
work out. we are straying far from tattoos but some of it is the sense i can be the center of the universe. i can publish the story of myself and that's empowering. i think this is an empowered generation. >> host: i hesitate to ask how many tattoos my kid has by now. as the generations shift places which is a nice euphemism what happens to the age structure of the american population? >> guest: we are getting older than we have ever been before so our median age today is something like 37 and by the middle of the century it will be 41. that doesn't sound all that dramatic and if we stand back a little bit what we can observe around the world is almost every country in the world is getting older than it's ever been before in terms of these and it's a combination of rising longevity and 1900 baby born in america had an average lifespan of 47
years. today a baby born has an average lifespan of 79 years and by the middle of the century it will be 84 years. a lot of those advancements in the first half of the 21st century had to had to do with sanitation and public health driving down the appallingly high death rate of infants due to infectious diseases. most of the recent advances have to do with extending the life of older adults and there are some people who think we ain't seen nothing yet. there's a methuselah drug that will be invented in the computer chip that will be embedded and all of our bodily systems will keep going indefinitely. whether or not we get to that future and that future is dystopia or nirvana and the chapter the book gets into that, we are getting older and every country in the world is getting older. the combination of longer longer lifespans but longer lifespans throughout human history lower
fertility rates. in the old days people have a lot of kids because they weren't sure all of them would survive to adulthood. you had kids because you needed someone to take care of you when you got older. the message now is you don't need that many kids in and that kids are expensive and there aren't that many family farms that need tending in new york city or shanghai or mexico city. so birthrates have plummeted throughout the world and there is a big debate among demographers from most of history the demographers who got the most attention were the ones who said we are heading for an overcrowded future and there will be mass starvation and it's going to be very grim. now there are still some who believe that in some who worry about the sustainability of the earth resources in a world that has today 7 million -- 7 billion inhabitants and likely to have between 10 and 11 billion but that growth rate of 50% in the century is way
down from a fourfold growth rate in the 20 century so this has to do with declining birthrates. whether not that is good or bad for humanity and the long-haul, it poses challenges for countries in the short-haul, countries like united states that has as large cohort of abe bombers heading into retirement planning on social security and medicare and a smaller cohort in the workforce paying taxes to support them. the math simply doesn't work. this is a challenge. it's not an insolvable challenge and we have unfortunately a pretty dysfunctional political system right now. it's hard for us to tackle these big things but it's an even bigger challenge in most of the world's other advanced countries so we are heading for a median age of 41 by mid-century. by then china will be 46 with their one-child policy for decades now and it's completely
changed its age pyramid. germany's will be 51. japan's will be 53 so there are a lot of advanced economies in the world that are looking at uncharted waters in terms of the relationship of older people to younger people. the challenge with an older society is older people don't have the energy and they don't have the imagination. they are wonderful and respect them and we want them to live out their last years in dignity and all the rest that you don't want an economy if you are looking at it from that point of view driven by older people because you are much better off with the vitality of youth. >> host: this sounds all dire but your book is not all gloom and doom and the mad max for. one of the upsides of the things that have been going on post the recession as you point out from the numbers it has fostered this renewed intergenerational dependency. can you tell us a little bit about that? >> guest: one of the things
the book tries to do using data is to play off the challenges in our public policy for reengineering the social compact between young and old and that is to do something about social security and medicare but also let's look at the same social compact in the confines of the family which in some ways is the original social safety net and it's the place where the most important intergenerational exchanges happen and have been happening since the beginning of time. here i think we do have a pretty attractive story. again in the old days the paradigm was the gardener between the generation is i take care of you when you are young and you take care of me when i'm old and everybody wins. in the 20 century the united states and most advanced countries built a public social safety net for people who are old because it was an reaction to the industrial age which saw some people in circumstances in
old age got very dire and they didn't have families who could build a floor beneath them. when fdr pushed forward social security in the 1930s we were in the middle of the great depression but by far the poorest people in the country were old people. so the notion was we need the government to do the things that families themselves cannot do. we built a social safety net for the old and that in some ways relieve the burden if you will of young adults and middle-aged adults are caring for their older parents. everybody loved that and if you go back 150 years the idea of many generations living under the same roof was the norm particularly if you go back to agrarian societies in family farms and all the rest but in the course of the 20 century we have moved away from that. we love you grandma and grandpa but we are buying a house in the suburbs where he can raise the kids.
you come visit on sundays and everybody wins. the number of families living mentored -- many generations under the same roof went down, down, down. for the last 30 years that has come back up in a particularly came back up or five years ago when we got hit with the great recession and there was a big housing component so you suddenly have millions of people losing their jobs and losing their homes. one of the most famous lines in poetry is from robert frost which is 100 years ago and has relevance today. home is the place where when you have to go there they have to take you in. in today's economy in now have more than 50 million americans living in multigenerational family households and that includes a lot of millennials who can't get started in life and middle-aged folks who have out in one way or another. they have lost their job or lost their home. it includes elderly parents who can't take care of themselves anymore and it moves in all
directions. but it's a story that basically says the generations in modern america not only are at each other's throats when the boomers came of age 30 or 40 years ago, they like each other and they get along well and believed in. >> host: with that we will take a break. >> host: paul taylor how did you become so interested in demographics quest. >> guest: i am a former reporter and i spent 25 years working at newspapers mostly national politics. a great foreign assignment in south of africa during its
historic transition. politics are interested in numbers and who votes and who doesn't. always interested in demographics as well. i started a family beat at the "washington post" 25 years ago because i could see the structure of the family changing and i was fascinated by that. over the last 10 years i have been at the pew research center. we call ourselves a fat tank and again it's social science public opinion research but also demographers. we tell stories with numbers so we generate our own surveys and we look at census data. we have a lot of very serious methodologist to understanunderstand how to find the data and understand and make sure it's rigorous and high-quality and then we have storytellers like a self who tried to turn the numbers into stories. what we don't do and i miss it sometimes is our stories about america are told in numbers.
they are not told in flesh and blood so i can copy one prototypical boomer and there is one chapter where we have a real person under different a different name. he is a millennial and describes technology by everything. for the most part the book is a lot of numbers that we hope illuminate and shed light but it may not be for everybody. it's a little bit blunt. they are not real living breathing human beings. when we say something we hope there is empirical data that came back about and therefore it does help. the goal of the book is to say look here we are at the beginning of this breathtaking new century, amazing changes going on in all realms of our lives from politics to social norms to our families to economics. let's look at the numbers to find out that we got there in based on while the book doesn't do a lot of predicting there are
parts of the future we argue no. the parts of the demographics of the data in based on that it does look forward to the next century. >> host: old people are totally overrated in my experience anyway. [laughter] one of the most interesting sections of the book is a section about marriage. a big marriage gap has opened up in the last 30 years. tell us what's going on with marriage. >> guest: first of all marriages losing the market share. if you go back to 1960, 72% of adults were married in today 51% of adults are married. that's a huge change in a short period of time. marriage is an institution has been around for thousands and thousands of years. it's an institution that existed in almost every society throughout all of human history and this amount of deterioration just in the loss of customers if you will is unprecedented. so what's going on and wears a
coming coming from? the second thing to say is the question. by far the biggest drop-off is the by far the lower at could -- socioeconomic scale. people with higher incomes and less education comes mary at roughly the same rate. today there is a huge gap so if you try to understand where the loss of marriage is coming from a quote an old joke about politics. it's three things. money, money and i can't remember the third. we asked people adults of all ages and income levels and all educational levels how important is it to have a good financial future in order to be a good perspective husband or wife? the people who are most likely to say it's very important for people at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. they aspire for marriage just
like every one else does despite this loss of marketshare. the overwhelming number say of course i want to get married and of course it's an important thing an important priority but when you ask what does it take to be a good potential partner folks with less income say it takes money. in effect they are setting a bar for marriage that they themselves can't cross. this has a kind of a circular effect. marriage for most of human history has been an economic arrangement and a successful economic arrangement. so if the folks at the lower and don't enter into that they are deprived of the economic benefits and when would add i think there is a psychological benefit. marital commitment itself is associated with the attributes that are associated with economic success.
you have got to have an instinct for copper mines and constancy for saving for tomorrow and all the rest. so a very vivid fat of modern life is an increase in income and wealth and inequalities probably driven by the changing structure of the global economy by the digital revolution. this then is fed into this marriage gap as well. certainly at the lower and of the marriage marketplace if you will there is a market mismatch. men have done less well than women adapting to the new economy. we are now in an era where nearly 60% of all undergraduates are women. when you ask young women and young women and asked these questions about their life priorities young women have higher career aspirations than do young men. these gaps are particularly notable in the minority community. marriage rates among lacks 40 or
50 years ago 60% today 30% of lack adults are married. but man ,-com,-com ma some are doing extremely well but many are not. there are high levels of incarceration. something is missing in the marriage market in those communities and other communities of low income. so you have got cultural change being fed by economic change and probably reinforcing the widening gap of society. >> host: you are talking about marriage becoming in the words of grant wilcox the capstone event rather than a cornerstone event. do we know when this shift in perception is about the function of marriage emerged? >> guest: the notion that marriage by others who have studied this is it something you do when you have all your ducks in a row. first you want to get a career
and then find a mate. i think it has been driven by the change in the economy and the decline of economic opportunity at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. go back 40 or 50 years with just a high school degree, usc young man starting out have a reasonable prospect of getting a job at a local factory and having a good steady wage and leading a middle-class life. those on ramps are not as available as they used to be. our economy is a little bit like an hourglass these days with a lot of lower jobs that don't offer that much advancement and hope into advanced lifestyle. there are more high-end jobs that take more skills but fewer in between so i would say that more than anything is what is driving the current decline. there is a longer-term change in marriage which marriage scholars
say go back a couple of hundred years which is the notion of love and individual fulfillment is the purpose of marriage. for most of marriages history it was an economic arrangement. it made sense to get married. it's the best place to raise kids to help secure your economic future. it's a good way to allocate resources. sometime after the enlightenment the notion of love or companionship, a lifetime soulmate comes in. when we asked today's adults what is the point of getting married in the most important reason to get married love is always at the top of the list. love is a wonderful thing but it has introduced a fragile elements in the heart of this institution. divorce rates are now, they're not quite as high as they were 20 or 30 years ago but nearly half of all marriages end in
divorce. it's not quite, it remains to be seen whether it is as sturdy and anchor for this institution is economic self-interest has been. one of interesting things going back to the generation is the latest uptick in divorce is actually occurring among older adults. historically the marriages that are the greatest risk of divorce or new young marriages particularly if you get married very young and you have a higher chance of getting divorced. today, there has been a real spike in older divorces, divorces of couples ages 50 or more exemplified two or three years ago with the breakup of the 40 year marriage if al and tipper gore. you would think 40 years they have worked out the of their marriage but now it used to be something like only one in 10 divorces were among people 50 and older and now it is down to one in four.
interestingly it's the boomers who were part of the divorce revolution 30 or 40 years ago with young marriages and are part of the great divorce revolution as some have described it today. it may not yell back. there are some who say part of what's going on here is that couples in their 50s and 60's first of all they are in good health and there is a lot left out there for me to do that i want to do. the kids in many cases a lot of them have boomeranged back home. maybe the marriage has gone stale and i don't want to settle and maybe there's there is something better for me. there is an interesting cultural debate over whether divorce at the end of the day is a good or bad thing. we ask questions of the public about that. in terms of changing family structures the public is live and let live about divorce and if you asked the public what is
better divorce is never a happy outcome but it's better to stay in a bad marriage or to get a divorce, most of the public will say if it's a lousy marriage get out. the real concern among the public about the fact that so many fewer adults are married these days has to do with extraordinary rise in birth outside of marriage. again you go back 40 or 50 years, 5% of newborns were born to a single mom. today 41% of all newborns are born to a single moms and on this front the american public is concerned because they don't need a sociologist or the economist to tell them what they know if that is true. if you are born to a single parent your chances for having a happy outcome in life are lower. that doesn't mean you are doomed by any means and that doesn't mean there aren't her road single moms or single dads doing great stuff but if you look at the numbers the correlation
between being born and raised by single parent and poverty is high. >> host: since we are here on single parenthood lets forge ahead. you are admirably respectful in the book as you talk about bad outcomes. what are the bad outcomes? >> guest: well i think more than half of all children in poverty today are from single-parent households. so that is the strongest correlation. there are other psychological correlations and i don't want to stretch my credentials. children of divorce or children who were raised by both parents there's a tendency to have a higher level of psychological problems as one is growing up.
one of the demographers i quote says there are a lot of countries by the way in a world where marriage rates have plummeted. this is not just an american for common and if you look at northern europe marriage rates are lower than they are here, much lower but in northern europe cowan habitation has all but replaced marriage. it is the case that america is unique in the degree to which nonmarriage and high divorce -- a teenager in this country has less of a chance of being raised by both a illogical parents than in any other country in the world. and didn't turn that child and young adult experience may lead to a difficult outcome. i would have one more thing and it's important to keep in mind because people who have been watching this family breakup our family noninformation unfold for the last 40 or 50 years in the go back to the moynihan report which became infamous depending
on your perspective in the 60s. he focused on the black family and he was very concerned. this was considered a scandalous number back then where the out of wedlock birthrate in the black community is 25%. that was a shocking thing that a high official produced a report that said that. in the hispanic it's more than 50% in the white community is 29 to 30% said there has been a sea change here. it is worth pointing out however that the negative social outcome and many people said dire consequences to a large extent haven't happened. if you look at most of what we look at for the well-being of children high school dropout rates, college attainment, crime
and other antisocial behaviors in fact the lines go in a positive direction. that speaks to something that i think a number of the parts of the book go to which is the old family, the old nuclear family the ozzie and. family has a completely distant distant -- hasn't completely completely disappeared but as lost as cultural hegemony. there are now many family forms. mixed-race and same-sex families, step families, many types and there is in all of this ample cause for concern because many of these families are fragile but there's an extraordinary amount of resilience. all americans and whatever their family circumstance continued to place family at the absolute center of their lives and they told the network around whatever family they have. yes it works better for some people than others but the fact
that the old form is in trouble doesn't mean that others haven't come along and replace them. the last thing i would say is i was totally fascinated. we now have advertisers showing family forms that would have shocked the american public 10, 20 or 30 years ago. the ads that ran earlier this year on the olympics and in the super bowl are celebrating the new family and there are images in the chevy commercial which it is this is is american apple pie. it's mixed-race families, it's same-sex families. this goes back to generational differences. this is the new america. young adults comfortable with this kind of, these kinds of arrangements older adults a little bit more. >> host: before we leave the topic of marriage, is marriage
good for people? >> guest: yes. i can say that empirically. we asked people. we have what we call one of my door opener questions and the first question i ask on the polls to get people warmed up. how happy are you these days? are you somewhat happy very happy you're not happy? then we run fascinating correlations. what types of people say they are happy and what types say they are not happy? then you can do a statistical regression to say well is this group happy because of this demographic character but anyway the bottom line is poll after poll that we have taken married people are happier than unmarried people. discuss it among yourselves. is it because happy people get married or have -- married people get happy. it is probably both as is often
the case with causation and correlation and all the rest but there's no question question as i said earlier that marriage is associated with positive economic incomes and people who do well financially are happier than people who don't do well. there is a multiple set of correlating issues here. >> host: this is after you control for other factors. >> guest: i'm out of my realm. i know not to talk about these things. my methodologies do multiple regression analyses so we look at the correlation between marriage and happiness we control for all other factors. we just identify the impact of marriage unhappiness and we can say married people are i think the figure was 12% more likely than unmarried people to be happy. most of the things that we look at and you control for all of those factors washes away. there are too many things that stand up to that kind of
regression. one of the things it does is religiosity. people who are very religious and regular church attend her's are happier than other people all else equal. income as well. >> host: you have a great line from andrew cherlin over the course of our lives where accumulating more and more kin to hoe we all less and less. >> guest: this goes back to the nuclear family has now given way to all sorts of families, step and blended, broke in and mixed. i think it's an open question as to how well that family serves the people in it over the course of their lifestyles. when i use that quote it was in the context of the boomers are now the first generation in our history to head into older age having gone through some of the turbulence in their family lives with high divorce rates and all the rest.
going back to the old paradigm i take care of you when you're young and you take care of me when i'm old. sub pose we have a guide who has fathered some children and hasn't been particularly involved in the lives of those children and is now 65, 70, 75 years old and doesn't have the strength of that intergenerational relationship. he falls down and breaks his hip he doesn't have a 50-year-old daughter who is going to worry about him the way that he might if you were a part of her life for the first 50 years of her life. there is a phrase, what we have now coming into old age is a higher number of quote elderly orphans who don't have those intergenerational family ties. it's one of the things as sociologists are beginning to look at. this needs further study and it's in that realm but it's an interesting development.
>> host: people may not realize we are a church country than we were at the time of the founding. can you sketch out briefly for us the churching of america? >> guest: religion has been part of our dna were from the beginning. the pilgrims came because they wanted to practice their devout but nonconformists brand of christianity. we have been distinctive in our religion and it was de tocqueville who put it best our most famous early visitor who remarked in the early 19th century housed about americans were and how seriously they took religion but they didn't seem to mind if their neighbors had false faith. we have been devout but always enormously -- so we see that in their founding documents where everybody has the right to pursue any religion he or she wants but the state does not have a right to impose that religion on the public as a whole.
these instincts have led to over the course of the 19th century as a young country as a secular country we didn't have that many institutions but we built them very quickly and we have built them a lot of religious institutions throughout the 19th and early 20th century. we are today by far the most religious of any advanced and industrialized country. a lot of people have made the argument that modernity leads to secularism. you see that certainly in europe where you have these enormous empty cathedrals. they are memory of the importance religion once played in those societies and no longer does. in america our situation is somewhat different. we remain very pluralistic. one of the things however that has begun to happen and there's a chapter in the book called the rise of the nuns.
meaning what is your religion in response to the question is none. it doesn't mean you are atheist or agnostic but 20% of the public now and 33% of millennials say i have no religion. it doesn't mean they are atheist or agnostic. only a quarter of the group says that. it simply means they don't choose to be affiliated with any religious denomination and therefore they are not churched if you will. most of them believe in god in many of them still pray. many of them say they are spiritual in some way but a rising share particularly of young adults aren't comfortable with organized religion. that's a new trend but it is in the context of a country in terms of religion that is always searching always somewhat tolerant of new ways of doing its religious life. despite that trend it's not clear that religion is losing its hold on the american public.
the share of americans who say they go to church every week actually hasn't moved down that much. where you really see the changes among that share of the public that has always been loosely attached to religion and now they are more willing to say no, i have no religion whereas they may have in previous decades felt some social or cultural pressure to say well yes i am nominally this were nominally that created. >> host: early on in your book he lists a bunch of demographic characteristics about america. you say we are growing older more unequal more diverse more mixed race more digitally linked more tolerant less fertile less religious less mobile and less confident. some of these traits are objectively good. some of their objectively bad. it is bad that we are less mobile. to what degree are all of these things linked together and bound up with one another? >> guest: i think to a large degree and they think certainly the political change.
the notion of a country that is polarized. i live in washington and i have been in washington most of my adult life and covered politics and public policy. most people have a sense that the system isn't working very well in the system has gotten pretty toxic. a lot of reasons for it to one of the reasons is what somebody cleverly called people increasingly are leaving communities that reflects their own cultural or racial or ethnic identities and economic identities and that is then -- they have sent to congress people who are at one pole or the other and it makes it more difficult to find a pragmatic middle, which is a shame because again a lot of public opinion surveys about politics and frankly most americans even in this age of the shoutfest you see on cable tv and that the
twitter sphere and all the rest, most americans are pragmatic and they want to solve problems. they tend not to be the ones who you find in the conversation. the conversation tends to favor the shouters. the polarization has influenced our politics and lead to this sort of gridlock which is somewhat self-reinforcing because the public is fed up with approval ratings for both the political parties in congress itself. having said that i would say that's the current most negative thing. clearly the fact that the economic divide to rowing is a negative thing. i think these are all linked. we are an enormously heterogeneous society and the thing that has made our society work is the sense that there is fluidity and there is mobility. those are the rules of the game and that's the greatness of america.